Saturday, December 10, 2011

Holiday Survival Tips For Children

This time of year can be so exciting and fun-a time to share with family and enjoy building wonderful memories.  For children, their schedule and consistency is important so the holidays can be a stressful time of year if there are too many activities happening.  Keep in mind your child's tolerance level for handling a disruption in their routine.  The pressure to do more and have more is a cultural pressure that you have to measure as a family.  More is often times not better when it comes to kids.  First, if your child typically takes a nap or has a rest time at a certain time of day, try to schedule your activities to allow for the rest time to still take place.  Second, if you know your child's meals will be full of a lot of extra sugar and food they don't normally eat, make sure they have a healthy breakfast and bring along healthy snacks to help balance all the yummy goodies at this time of year.  Also, be respectful of your child's needs in terms of opening gifts.  Many times we can feel obligated for our children to be excited about a gift that someone is giving.  But, sometimes kids open one thing and really want to just play with that toy and aren't interested in anything else.  You can maybe just set the additional gifts aside and wait for your child to be ready.  Another good tip for surviving the holidays is spending at least a little bit of time outdoors.  Bundling up and taking a quick hike or driving to a park and playing is a great way to get fresh air and get away from all the celebrating.  Many children like to know what is happening when their schedule is different then normal.  Sitting down with your child and letting them know the schedule of their day can help them be prepared for things that are different than normal.  Another way to balance out activities is having people to your house where your child is most comfortable and can be in their space while all the celebrating is happening.  This is such a wonderful time of year full of beauty, family time and fun!  Help your child enjoy the season while keeping in mind their needs as well.  Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Everyday at Community Montessori our day begins with breaking into smaller groups and presenting two to three lessons.  These lessons last between 10 and 15 minutes, depending on the lesson and the age of the children.  Our classroom consists of three groups for lessons-youngest group, middle group, and oldest group.  Throughout the week we try to show lessons from all areas of the classroom:  Everyday Living, Sensorial, Art, Math, Language, Unit, Science, Geography and Writing.  Small group lessons are given daily as well as individual lessons during work time.  Maria Montessori actually instructed that lessons only be given individually.  But, one advantage she had with the children she worked with was she had them all day long (early morning to early evening) so there was more opportunity to give individual lessons based on a child's interest and readiness.  I can certainly see the wisdom in individual lessons.  Typically lessons are given silently or with little discussion, depending on the work.  For example, when showing an Everyday Living or Sensorial work, we do not talk at all, only slowly and precisely present the lesson.  Early on the children learn that when we are showing lessons, the work is ours; therefore, we should not be interrupted and our material should not be touched.  Unit works, for example, have more discussion.  We are currently studying the human body, so we may review characteristics of the human body prior or during a work we show. 
During work time, the children understand that if they have not had a lesson on a material, they need a lesson.  The children in our classroom know now that they can ask a teacher or another student to give them a lesson.  Sometimes, children want to see a lesson even if they have already had a lesson. It's reasonable to think that even though we give lessons, the material/work we are showing may not be interesting to all children at the same time; therefore, they may need a refresher lesson when they finally show an interest.  Showing lessons, even if a child does not choose the work immediately, have a lot of value. First, they get to see the materials used properly from start to finish.  It also exposes them to more and more choices in the classroom.  The lesson itself is teaching, showing, presenting new concepts or information even if they don't choose the work itself.  If everyone knew how many wonderful materials and options there are for children in the classroom, they would understand the need to be in the classroom for five days a week.Of course, any time in the classroom is wonderful, but with so many purposeful, engaging materials, being their all week certainly helps support children's development.  The children need time to get their hands on all the opportunities available to them.  So, if you are able to come visit the classroom, come in time to observe your child's lessons.  They are an important part of your child's day at Community Montessori.  When my boys were younger, we began implementing lessons at home:  If there was something new they wanted to learn how to do, we would give them a lesson first, then let them try.  You can do this with anything:  vacuuming, baking muffins, making a bed, brushing teeth, cleaning up a spill, writing a grocery can be adapted to any and all ages.